Information about the medical care available, hospitals, health centres and emergency services for foreigners in Taiwan, and how to access English-speaking medical care...
Hospitals in Taiwan are subdivided into medical centres, regional hospitals, local hospitals and basic level medical institutes.
Health clinics can be found all over Taiwan and form the basis of medical care in the country. In remote areas, far away from hospitals, they offer a full range of medical services. They promote health education, adult health examinations, child health, daily health and communicable disease prevention. People should seek primary care from a clinic or family doctor and are advised to stick with one doctor who can get to know their needs.
A clinic will give referrals to hospitals and specialists when needed. Referrals have an expiration date; the recommended hospital or medical centre must be visited within this timeframe. Referral notices should be submitted to the hospital’s referral centre for verification; care will then be arranged. Hospital care costs less after a referral.
The NHI scheme does not provide full coverage for medical care. A registration fee must be paid at any hospital when seeking treatment; the amount charged depends on the type of hospital. Patients are also required to pay for part of their treatment. Fees are highest in medical centres, followed by regional hospitals, local hospitals and basic level institutes. Higher fees are charged for outpatient treatment without a referral. The NHI will pay for between 70 percent and 95 percent of hospitalisation expenses. The amount depends on the length of the hospital stay and whether the condition is acute or chronic. Patients who insist on further treatment when a doctor has said they no longer need to be hospitalised will have to pay for all additional care.
People who do not present their IC card when seeking treatment will have to pay for all medical care and then make a claim for reimbursement. When leaving a clinic or hospital after treatment patients should ensure that they get a receipt. The receipt should list what care they were given, any drugs that were prescribed and which items are covered by insurance.
If a doctor writes a prescription it is only valid for three days. The prescribed medicines should be collected from an NHI scheme contracted pharmacy within this period. Many clinics and hospitals have qualified pharmacists allowing prescriptions to be filled straight away. There are both small and large pharmacies all over Taiwan; some are open 24 hours a day.
The NHI scheme covers most emergency care expenses. Treatment, physical examinations, medication and any necessary laboratory tests are all covered. Patients do need to pay an “emergency care co-payment” towards the cost of the care they receive.
Most large public hospitals and healthcare centres offer services in English; signs, information centres and online services are usually given in both Chinese and English. Some healthcare professionals speak English and some hospitals provide interpreter services.
Taiwanese people use both Chinese and western medicine; both are covered by the NHI scheme. Since 1995 significant efforts have been made to modernise the practice of ancient Chinese medicine techniques in the country. Many hospitals have outpatient Chinese medicine departments, some of which offer English language services. There are also numerous independent Chinese medicine clinics. Treatments which combine western and Chinese medicine approaches are becoming increasingly popular in the country.